Common ground in the air

Last month, the Ogdensburg City Council approved a 90-day contract with the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority to provide security at the airport. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

OGDENSBURG — In a special meeting that lasted about 10 minutes, City Council voted to extend a contract to supply security at the Ogdensburg International Airport for the next three months.

A one month contract extension was defeated at Tuesday night’s regular meeting when an amendment to add payment conditions caused a rift.

The Ogdensburg City Police Department has had a contract to supply security at the airport for several years. City Council has reported during that time that the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority, which runs the airport, is chronically late with its payments.

Tuesday night Councilor Michael B. Powers sought to add an amendment to the resolution calling for the bills to be paid within 30 days. Mr. Powers and councilors Nichole L. Kennedy and Daniel E. Skamperle voted in favor of the amendment while Mayor Jeffery M. Skelly, and Councilors Steven M. Fisher and William B. Dillabough voted against. Deputy Mayor John Rishe who works for the OBPA abstained.

The amendment failed because it could not get a majority. The subsequent vote on the resolution suffered the same fate, a 3-3 tie, with the yea and nay votes reversed.

The new resolution calls for a 90-day contract with a 60-day payment deadline.

Friday afternoon Mr. Fisher opened up the discussion by questioning why the resolution failed Tuesday night when it was reported, by the Assistant City Manager Andrea Smith, that the OBPA had paid what it owed.

Mr. Fisher claimed that there was no compromise and that the councilors insisting on payment terms risked shutting down the airport.

“If this meeting didn’t take place today and this resolution that’s before us doesn’t pass, that airport will close over the weekend,” Mr. Fisher said. “And the mere fact that they had a zero balance Tueday night it should have passed. For one month, I mind you.”

The City of Ogdensburg sometimes doesn’t pay its vendors for up to 90 days Mr. Fisher said.

“I think it’s a wonderful compromise and I am glad that they came to the table to keep our agreement going,” Mr. Skamperle said. “I had no intention of shutting them down now, or in the future. I think this is a wonderful win-win.”

Mr. Skelly said the course of events didn’t allow for proper negotiations.

“I believe the proper procedure would have been to pass the resolution (Tuesday night),and negotiate in that time.”

Because of the short notice, he said, the OBPA did not have time to seek another vendor.

“They should have been given 90 days to find someone else,” he said. “They had no choice but to agree to anything.”

The final vote was 5-0 to approve the resolution. Mr. Rishe abstained and Mr. Dillabough was absent.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

St. Lawrence/Franklin County Editor

Slowly self-propelled. Two-time cancer survivor. Nearly 30-year newspaper veteran.

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